Icelander In The National Portrait Gallery - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelander In The National Portrait Gallery

Published November 20, 2014

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
Gabrielle Motola

A portrait of Icelandic deputy MP and human rights activist, Freyja Haraldsdóttir, by Gabrielle Motola, has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2014.

Freyja’s picture, part of Motola’s “Women of Iceland” photographic series, along with the other 59 portraits will be on display at London’s National Portrait Gallery until mid-February 2015.

“The idea for the ‘Women of Iceland’ series was sparked by an article in the news about Iceland’s response to the 2008 financial crisis,” Gabrielle wrote on her website. “Icelanders were quoted as saying that a more ‘feminine’ approach to finance was needed. Curious, I began researching Icelandic women’s stories which resonated with me. To date I have interviewed and photographed over 50 women, all of them successful in fields ranging from musician to politician, from photographer, CEO and entrepreneur.”

Freyja Haraldsdóttir was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta (colloquially referred to as glass bones disease) shortly after birth.

Since then she has become a champion for human rights and disabled rights in Iceland, served on the constitutional council in 2010 alongside her studies, and currently serves as a deputy MP for the Bright Future party.

“Even though [osteogenesis imperfecta] has had an impact on my life it has never controlled it,” Freyja said in an interview with the Nelson Mail last year. “My parents decided from the very beginning that I deserved to live my life to the fullest like anybody else.”

More than 1,700 photographers submitted over 4,000 photographs, of which only 60 were selected for the exhibition. Photographer Gabrielle has said she was “honoured” to have been chosen out of such a large and talented pool of photographers.

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